Yorkshire Chess History



James Hirst Kilner











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



22/05/1807, Huddersfield


04/06/1807, Highfield, Huddersfield


06/03/1879, Huddersfield


08/03/1879, Edgerton Cemetery, Huddersfield


James Hirst Kilner was born 22nd May 1807, in Huddersfield, the first of at least ten children born to Thomas Kilner and Hariet/Harriotte Kilner née Hirst.  He was not a member of the immediate family of the glass bottle manufacturer John, the eponymous inventor of the Kilner jar, but he may possibly have been a nephew of Thomas, or some similar relative.


The Leeds Mercury of Saturday 25th April 1835 reported his marriage to Sarah Dransfield (born 1807, baptised 25th December 1807, at St. Peter’s, Huddersfield) as follows:


Same day, at St. Paul's Church, Huddersfield, by the Rev. J[ames]. C[larke]. Franks, Mr. John Hirst Kilner, eldest son of Mr. Thomas Kilner, of Carr House, to Sarah, daughter of the late Mr. Thomas Dransfield, of Huddersfield.


Its context would seem to imply “Same day” meant 18th April 1835, but the marriage register clearly states the date to have been 23/04/1835.


Both were 27 years of age according to The Archbishop of York’s Marriage Bonds and Allegations.  Sarah was thus born 1807/08.


The couple had at least seven children, all born in Huddersfield:


Frederick Kilner

born 1837/38

Emily Kilner

born 31/12/1838

died 18/07/1903

Henry Kilner

born 13/08/1840

died 21/08/1900

Thomas Dransfield Kilner

born 1842/43

died 16/02/1877

Alfred Kilner

born 1843/44

John Herbert Kilner

born 1845/46

George William Kilner

born 13/10/1847

died 02/11/1896


Dates of birth and death, and full names of Emily, Henry, Thomas and George are from their grave inscriptions in Edgerton Cemetery.


The 1835 Poll Book for Huddersfield listed Thomas Kilner and “J Hirst Kilner” residing at Carr House, Huddersfield.  This suggests our man was known by his second forename rather than the first, but this is the only instance found of “J. Hirst Kilner”.  On the other hand “John H. Kilner” and simply “John Kilner” were used in the 1841 and 1861 censuses respectively.


The 1837 Poll Book for Huddersfield listed James Hirst Kilner residing at a new address, perhaps his new marital home, namely Commercial Street, Huddersfield.


The 1841 Poll Book for Huddersfield listed Thomas Kilner residing still at Carr House, Huddersfield, and James Hirst Kilner residing still at Commercial Street, Huddersfield.


The 1841 census found the couple, with the first three of the above children and two servants, living at 15 Queen Street, Huddersfield.  John Hirst Kilner at this stage was described as a woollen cloth merchant.


The 1851 census found the family at Fitzwilliam Street, Huddersfield.  Frederick is not listed, and doesn’t reappear in later years, suggesting he may have died.  Emily seems to be recorded as “Amelia”, but regains her true identity in later censuses.  Thomas, Alfred, John Herbert and George now appeared in the listed household.  There were now three servants in residence.  Importantly, JHK was now described as an accountant, indicating a change of career.


The 1861 census found the family at Spring Street West, Huddersfield.  As before, Frederick wasn’t listed in the family.  George wasn’t listed any more, though may have been at school.  The household included 1 servant.  John Hirst Kilner was still an accountant, Henry Kilner now worked as bookkeeper at a dyeworks, Thomas Kilner was a telegraph clerk, and John Herbert Kilner was a clerk at a gas works.


The Poll Book for Huddersfield for 1865 and listed both 1868 John Hirst Kilner at 59 Spring Street, Huddersfield.  This was the address given for daughter Emily in our man’s probate record, and so was presumably his final residence.


Sarah Kilner died 25/07/1867, aged 59, and was buried in Edgerton Cemetery, consecrated section 30, plot 209.


Both John Hirst Kilner and his daughter Emily Kilner are elusive in the 1871 census




James Hirst Kilner, accountant, died on 6th March 1879, at Huddersfield.


Entry 8730 in the burial register of Edgerton Cemetery records the burial there on 08/03/1879 of John Hirst Kilner , aged 72, gent, of 45 Spring Street, Huddersfield, in consecrated section 30, plot 209, by I. T. Wilkinson.  (Click here for images of the grave.)


His will was proved by Emily Kilner of Spring Street, Huddersfield, spinster, daughter and sole executrix.  He left under £1,500.




He attended the first four meetings of the original Yorkshire Chess Association, specifically the two in 1841, and those in 1842 and 1843.  He also attended the Nottingham Chess Club meeting of 1844.  The only subsequent such meeting that he attended seems to be the YCA meeting of 1848.  He was usually referred to by his surname only, but a report of the 1843 meeting, in the Halifax Guardian, names him more specifically as “J. H. Kilner” of Huddersfield.


There was a W. Kilner of Bradford who attended the West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting of 1870, though whether he was related to JHK isn’t clear.





Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann

Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information

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